Friday, March 16, 2012
Freddie Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street was created from the mind of Wes Craven, the same man that brought horror fans the “Scream” series of movies. I would venture to say its no way he could have known that when he sat down to create the character that later would be embodied by the extremely talented actor Robert Englund he would be creating an iconic horror figure that would stand the test of time as not only one of horror fan’s favorite villains but one of the greatest to ever to grace the big screen.
In retrospect, do you remember how Freddie Krueger came to be the mythic figure we came to know and love? If not, here’s the tale of his genesis. The story goes that some years before where the beginning of the movie picks up he was killed in a fire and a number of the town’s people were said to be responsible for his death.
But think about this for a moment. How would “A Nightmare on Elm Street” have turned out if there weren’t a Freddie Krueger or some other central mythic nightmarish-figure to haunt the characters in their dreams?
The importance of having this type of antagonist for this type of movie could not be overstated. He had to be someone who not only was extremely dangerous and who could elicit fear at his very appearance but would also be motivated by one of the strongest human desires, the desire for revenge. Wes Craven understood the need for his antagonist having each of these attributes if his vision for the movie was to be.
Freddie Krueger wasn’t just someone the characters in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” dreamed about or coincidentally saw in their dreams; nor was he just the subject of their dreams. He was a lot more than that. To each of them, he was a nightmare, a nightmare unto himself.
From which there was no waking up, from which there was no escape. When you and I lie down at night on the other hand, and occasionally experience a nightmare despite its effect upon us at that moment there is something deeply engrained in our psyches that provides solace, allowing us to know that if and when we awake, everything will be okay, it’ll be as it was.
Our pulse rate may be elevated and our heart still may be racing, but that level of comfort will yet be there in the end. The characters in the movie unfortunately weren’t afforded that luxury.
Wes Craven did something with his antagonist’s that made him, not only more frightful but also dangerous. What he did was blur the lines between the dream world and reality. This was evident when Freddie would follow the kids from their dreams into the real world.
If you can remember the female character that while dreaming wrestles with Freddie and when she awakes she’s holding his dirty hat? That was when we as the audience really came to see what these characters were up against. We knew there was no getting away from this guy.
Did Wes Craven envision the character as “death”, or possibly the grim reaper? Only one can surmise. If he did or didn’t, only he can answer that, but I don’t think it would be a stretch to compare Freddie Krueger to “death” or better yet the “angel of death”. However, unlike the angel of death who comes for a person’s soul, Freddie only wanted blood.
If all it would have taken were a pot of coffee in order to stave off sleep, and therefore that nightmarish blood lustful villain, like the female character tried, then it would have been as simple as drinking some coffee. But it wasn’t that simple was it? At some point she would have to sleep, she knew there was no getting around that fact. She knew despite whatever the amount of coffee she consumed, eventually the coffee and the effects of its caffeine would give way to what her body would crave more so at that moment, and that being sleep.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” was what I would call an instant classic the day it was released. The premise was good and very much original, but the catalyst behind the story, what drove it, what absolutely allowed that premise to work can be summed up in just two words, Robert Englund.
Cast anyone else in the role and the story we all loved and remember seeing back in the 80’s would have taken on a whole different dynamic, it would have also left us with a completely different impression. You only have to look to the most recent remake of the movie, where the iconic actor was noticeably absent from the lead role to appreciate just how much Robert Englund brought to the role of Freddie Krueger which with out question helped to make “A Nightmare on Elm Street” what we remembered it to be, a truly good horror movie.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Some of the greatest scary horror movies or characters ever created and there were many, from Wes Craven’s wonderfully and frightening character, Freddie Krueger, in A Nightmare on Elm Street, as brought to life by the great Robert Englund, who by the way, in this movie, was the living, breathing incarnation of the “angel of death, the grim reaper himself, was only made possible by many of the great horror legends of the past and some of the rolls that they made famous.
One scary horror movie, a personal favorite of mine, An American Werewolf in London which is as good today as it was when John Landis wrote it many years ago. The story was pretty well written but what resonated most with people and therefore they remembered the most about the movie were the special effects. Great story, great special effects and what you have is a pretty good scary horror movie, timeless in fact, at least in my opinion, and made possible because of its forerunner…
Lon Chaney, Jr’s The Wolfman
Unfortunately, written and produced during a time when many full-length features were a little over 60 minutes of running time, The Wolfman was a classic from the day it hit the big screen. But what it lacked in story and length it more than made up for in great set designs, cinematography and of course, special effects, which I don’t think would be a stretch for me to say, with respect to the later, were before its time. Accentuated superbly by the acting performance of one of the original legends of horror Lon Chaney, Jr., who embodied the shape shifting lycanthrope like no one has since, been able to do, not only allowing the movie to make its mark in motion picture history, but also setting the standard for every subsequent “werewolf big screen story”.
Made a few years before An American Werewolf in London, “The Howling” released at a time when the “drive in movie” was still en vogue. I still recall how the story played on a screen as large as what I saw it on, also owes much of its success to Chaney’s Werewolf.
Then there was “Silver Bullet”, written by the “King of the Macabre” Steven King, not particularly a good Werewolf movie, in fact the story was probably better on the written page than on the silver screen but like each of the aforementioned was only made possible, from the perspective of being “green lit” because of so many other Werewolf movies that had their roots in “the original werewolf” movie.
And then there was Dracula…
A role made most famously by Bela Lugosi, left an indelible mark in motion picture history, so much so, that others have tried to play the role but none did it like him.
I remember seeing the movie as a young child and from the first time I was able to see what this man was able to do with the role I became an immediate fan of not only Bela Lugosi but of the character Dracula.
It was something about how he spoke such as when he would say his name. “Hello, my name is”…well you know the rest. But the most notable element of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula and there fore the most memorable was the pure evil he was able to capture in his eyes and how he would use them to not only elicit fear in his victims but to also seduce them when needed.
As mentioned, other actors have taken a “bite” out of the role, most recently Gerard Butler. And sometime before him there was Frank Langella. When Dracula came out staring Frank Langella many people where very much impressed with his portrayal of the character and some have even went as far to say that what he brought to the role far exceeded anything that had been done prior.
Bela Lugosi I’m sure had he been alive during this time would have taken exception to such a statement. After all how can anyone improve upon perfection? Look, as good as Frank Langella’s performance was as well as the movie in general, Bela Lugosi to this day remains the singular figure synonymous with the role of Dracula.
Of course that is my opinion, but I believe that its more than just opinion, it’s a fact. Bela Lugosi was in fact Dracula and every actor who had the pleasure of also playing the role has only one man to thank for the privilege.
Legends of Horror Movie Pack